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Osteoporosis Drugs and Breast Cancer

Posted 8/12/2014

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  Many women take osteoporosis drugs to strengthen their bones and reduce the risk of fractures. Many women with breast cancer, both women with metastatic disease and some women with early breast cancer, take these drugs to strengthen their bones and (in theory) reduce the risk of bone mets. I have always liked this example of easy-to-understand science: if the bones are tougher, it is harder for cancer cells to infiltrate them.

  For a number of years, researchers have noted an association between taking these drugs and a seemingly reduced risk of developing breast cancer in the first place. Apparently, some doctors have prescribed these drugs for that very purpose. Sadly, new research has found that the link there was an association only, not causative. This means that they don't reduce the risk of breast cancer, but surely continue to be useful for other purposes.

  Here is the start of a short article from and a link to read it all:

More Bad News For Osteoporosis Drugs: They Don't Prevent Breast Cancer
by Alice Park

In recent years, several large studies involving tens of thousands of women found a potentially useful connection
between bisphosphonates, the popular bone drugs, and a lower risk of breast cancer. But new research published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine challenges that long-held belief.
In previous observational studies, women who reported taking medications like alendronate (Fosamax) or
zoledronic acid (Reclast) to treat osteoporosis also seemed to have lower rates of breast cancer compared to
women who didn’t take the medications. There was biological evidence to support the association as well –
bisphosphonates were also correlated with lower rates of cell death and hampered cancer cell activity.
But Trisha Hue, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues, wondered if the connection could truly be attributed to the osteoporosis medications, or whether there was something else
about the women taking these drugs that could explain the cancer trend.


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